May 12, 2016 | Sarah Danks

These days, paid search isn’t just about pay-per-click and display advertising. Now it’s about conversion rate optimization — whether that’s tweaking ad copy to be even better, optimizing your landing page layout with multivariate testing, or remarketing — also known as retargeting — to those visitors who didn’t convert the first time you “bought them” onto your site.

Remarketing is a type of marketing that allows you to show ads to web users who’ve already visited your site. As these previous visitors use search engines or visit other websites, you can show them relevant ads to entice them back to your site to (hopefully) convert.

Is THIS Retargeting?

Okay, you’re retargeting. But what does that even mean? Are you throwing ads willy-nilly at each and every random visitor to your website, and showing those same ads to these previous visitors all the time as they surf the web?

Do you show different ads to different types of visitors (i.e., organic vs. paid, visitors who looked at Product A vs. Product B)? No? Oh, so you’re tagging each and every single visitor to your site and stalking them across the web with retargeting banners everywhere they look?

I believe that’s called No Rhyme or Reason, AKA Spray-and-Pray Marketing. Or, honestly, it’s pretty much just stalking.

Is that really remarketing?

Remarketing vs. Stalking

Or, instead of Spray-and-Pray Marketing, are you retargeting those visitors who reached a certain point in your sales funnel/lead generation cycle but didn’t convert? Are you thinking about when, where and how often they should see your remarketing ads?

Are you writing ads specifically to entice them into returning and converting?

Even The Google says on their remarketing support page,

“When people leave your site without buying anything, for example, remarketing helps you connect with these potential customers again.”

If you’re retargeting but you’re not discerning between interested visitors (visitors who have started down the path to conversion) and any ol’ visitor who happens to be on your website…

…what can you hope to gain from that? How do you know what message to show them? How’s your ROI on that?

And, if you’re doing the aforementioned AND assailing these poor people with ad after ad after ad after ad everywhere they meander on the web — well then you’re not really remarketing, you’re just stalking.

There’s an article on Search Engine Journal that talks about PPC advanced tactics, where the writer states:

“If you bombard visitors too often with retargeting ads, you risk alienating them, causing them to mute your ads or shun your company.”

I know this to be true because it’s happened to me personally. I hit a site once — ONCE — and had no intention of buying. But then I was shadowed across the web for MONTHS by these annoying remarketing banner ads.

That kind of “re-stalk-eting” has the opposite effect on the bottom line, me thinks.

Do Retargeting Right — Or Don’t Do It At All

If you’re interested in getting a piece of the remarketing pie, be sure you’re doing your due diligence. Tag visitors at a crucial point in your sales funnel — don’t just retarget to everyone who happens to land on your home page.

Think about what ads — text, imagery, messaging — to show the right visitors. Get them thinking they need to head back to your site to finish the conversion process.

And please, for the love of all, do NOT remarket to people who’ve already converted by showing them ads for the exact product they just bought! That’s almost as bad as stalking.


What’re your experiences with remarketing that was really just stalking?



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